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UFT on School Governance: The first of two ‘Debates’

March 22, 2013 pm31 8:27 pm

Last Monday, at the UFT Exec Board, I rose to speak against the recommendations on school governance. They were approved by that body, seventy or so to 3.  I posted about the meeting (click here for account), and promised to write up my notes (immediately below).

On Wednesday the recommendations, now approved by the Exec Board, were introduced to the Delegate Assembly. There any chance of debate was obscured by a tertiary question:  did the MORE reps on the committee vote, and if so, did they vote against. (I discuss, in my next post.)

Monday, March 18, UFT Exec Board. After the report, I spoke. What follows is from my notes – I actually diverged considerably, both because Mulgrew interrupted me, and I responded, and because I thought I was going long, and skipped through a bit. But I said most of this, or something quite similar.

I thank the committee for their work. We have before us seven positive proposals.

The “no waiver for chancellor” – I just wish Dave Kaufman were here to see this.*  It is important that we are able to move forward, that we are not always stuck with past discussions.**

The new PEP composition – it is definitely better than what we currently have, though I do note there is no direct voice for teachers or parents. On the other hand, I was ready to support Montgomery-Weperin, which was substantially similar.

On the selection of the Chancellor – that’s a nice process that I had not thought about.

Giving the CEC control over colocation is good. But it should have been a complete moratorium on colocations. That is a discussion for another time. Emil’s point about school closings not belonging in Governance is well-taken. I’m glad that we have a bill in Albany for a moratorium.

Just last month there was an opinion piece in the New York Times, talking about a place in Jersey, Union City, where the schools were improved with the sort of good policies that teachers everywhere would recognize – and without “turning around” or closing any schools. Again, it is good that this body can change a previous stance. When I was a new high school teacher in the Bronx, our struggle against school closings brought us up against Park Avenue South.***

Al Baker had a good piece, front page, February 28, describing the policy of revolving door closures in the old Taft building. Very clear. And jus this Saturday I assume you saw the Liz Robbing piece on the Stevenson Campus, – we should talk about campuses – which shed some interesting light on Bloomberg’s potential legacy. There seems to be a real shift in the coverage.****

The proposal on Superintendents looks very good. But we need to make certain that the organization is geographic, and that the “Networks” get undone.*****

The SLT seeing the budget is positive. But the SLT can’t see members’ disciplinary flags – have we resolved the “Galaxy Flagging” or is it still at PERB?******  And adding in the C30s is a good idea.

If these proposals had come from a politician – yes, of course, with both hands. But the UFT should go further. We should be out front. 

New Action petitioned – not just for changes – but to end Mayoral Control. We chose not to serve on the Governance Committee – because the correct outcome, ending Mayoral Control – was obvious. Look, we don’t miss the old Board, no one does. But who in the schools thinks Mayoral Control’s been an improvement? Not a member who was active in the schools before Bloomberg thinks things are better today.

I thank the Committee. They produced a series of good proposals. But I urge this body to vote No, and ask the Committee to embed their fine proposals in a recommendation to end Mayoral Control.

* Dave Kaufman was a leader of New Action who died two years ago. During the renewal of Mayoral Control, seeing that the UFT was just going to ask to tweak the thing, he asked that we at least try to eliminate the waiver for Chancellor (to prevent another Klein, or worse, from taking the job). Unity rejected his proposal. And we had Cathy Black.

** Indirect praise for changing a bad position. It’s a weakness of this leadership that they often hold onto mistakes even after they know they were wrong. In this case, Mulgrew has made an important correction.

*** Park Avenue South was the UFT’s old headquarters. I think I may have said “Seventh Avenue South” in which case maybe no one understood what I was saying. Or maybe they did, as many on the Exec Board know how angry the Bronx High Schools were that they were being closed with the UFT involved in the process. This was Bill Gates and the 20th Century Fund or something like that… Gates has since said that his plan doesn’t work – but has no interest in fixing the damage he’s done.

**** Substantial interruption and back and forth with Mulgrew. He thought the piece on Stevenson was mixed – I thought it was positive for us. He pointed to the opening paragraphs.

***** Substantial back and forth here. Mulgrew said that the superintendents were automatically geographic, and that the Networks were not part of governance, but would likely go away (not sure if I have that right)

****** Michael Mendel indicated that it is still at PERB.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Maria permalink
    March 23, 2013 pm31 1:42 pm 1:42 pm

    I was there! Jonathon was great, proud to be a member of New Action Caucus. In response Michael Mendel left the podium and spoke from the floor at the mic right next to Jonathon. I’m sitting right behind Jon. Was that an attempt to intimidate? I study behavior. I’m a school Psychologist. There must have been 3 to 4 speakers after Jon. Were they speaking to the choir? or were they trying to get an unanimous vote on this one? Or isolate Jon? I work in two schools and among school psychs and social workers in three districts and told them about the vote! And they were very proud of our stand. They feel they have a voice.

    • March 25, 2013 pm31 10:46 pm 10:46 pm

      If that was an attempt to intimidate, it didn’t work well. First, Mendel is much taller than me. I couldn’t see his face when he was speaking. Second, I like him – how could he bother me?

      And he spoke well. He put forward the best possible arguments to change our minds… But how could we accept a proposal that began with the proposition that Mayoral Control should be maintained?


  1. UFT on School Governance: the second (and stranger) of two debates | JD2718
  2. Mayoral Control Needs to End | JD2718

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